Singaporean mother, daughter arrested in the Philippines for allegedly smuggling cocaine
Two Singaporeans were arrested at Manila’s main international airport early on Thursday morning for allegedly transporting 14.36kg of suspected cocaine worth 76.1 million pesos (S$1.83 million) into the Philippines.
The pair were identified by the authorities and the Philippine media as Ms Siti Aishah Awang, 63, a restaurant waitress, and her daughter, Ms Alaviyah Hanaffe, a make-up artist, 39.
They were detained after they landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) in Manila from Doha, Qatar, at around 1am on Thursday. Prior to Doha, they were said to have also been in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
The Manila Times quoted the Bureau of Customs as saying the two were arrested after the authorities profiled arriving passengers.
Officers from the Naia Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group found 341 pieces of pellets containing “white powdered substance suspected to be cocaine” inside their luggage and a duffel bag.
They were trying to pass the pellets off as gifts and souvenirs, Mr Gerald Javier, deputy commander of the Naia Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group, told reporters in Manila.
“They concealed the (cocaine pellets) in tin cans and cannisters (labelled) with known brands,” he said.
He added that the two suspects, in a further attempt to evade detection, stuffed the tin cans and cannisters inside plastic bags used in duty-free shops.
“When we scrutinised the plastic (bags) used, the goodies were there... The contents of the cannisters were cocaine instead of cookies.”
Mr Javier said the Philippines would coordinate with drug enforcers in Qatar and Singapore to ascertain “the personalities of our suspects”.
The contraband and the two women are now under the custody of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for further investigation.
Her daughter, who had her face covered, continued: “My mum already said that she doesn’t know anything. She doesn’t know what does it contain. That’s it. Thank you so much.”
In response to queries from The Straits Times, a Central Narcotics Bureau spokesperson said the agency is aware that two Singaporean women have been arrested in the Philippines for suspected drug-related offences.
“CNB will render any assistance required by our Filipino counterparts in their investigations,” the spokesperson said.
CNB also reminded Singaporeans to stay away from drugs, whether in Singapore or overseas.
The Straits Times has contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comments.
The last time a Singaporean was arrested at Manila’s airport for drug trafficking was in July 2012.
Philippine police records showed that a certain Danny Ng had attempted to smuggle 3.5kg of “shabu” – a potent stimulant known as methamphetamine hydrochloride, or “poor man’s cocaine” – into the Philippines.
He was arrested following a tip-off from drug enforcers in Bangkok, his last destination before Manila.
A follow-up operation resulted in the arrest of a Nepalese woman who was supposed to pick up the illegal drugs from Ng at a hotel in Manila.
- Additional reporting by Lok Jian Wen